Sexual offences committed by a prominent figure in the Catholic Church in Singapore against two male teenagers more than a decade ago recently came to light.
The offender, a man in his 60s, has been jailed after pleading guilty to two criminal charges -- one of carnal intercourse against the order of nature and one under the Children and Young Persons Act.
The archbishop of the Catholic Church or Singapore, William Goh, has publicly apologised.
On May 6, a day after the apology, the Catholic Church released a statement with more information on Goh's knowledge of the offences, and the action taken upon being informed of the case.
Archbishop informed of the case in October 2020
"The Roman Catholic Archbishop was only informed of the case in October 2020, during which time he gave instructions that the matter be reported to the police as it was a criminal offence and that a report be made directly to the Dicastery for Consecrated Life in Rome and to inform and update the Archbishop of the Diocese where the offence was committed in accordance with Vatican protocols.”
The spokesman added that "religious orders within the Roman Catholic Church are separately constituted and are governed by their own judicial proceedings and administration of law."
Man issued written advisory as he did not report offence
Meanwhile, The Straits Times (ST) reported that the police said it issued a written advisory to a 64-year-old man, to remind him of his legal obligations to report sexual crime cases to the police, under Section 424 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
This was in response to ST's queries on whether legal action would be taken against the sector leader or religious superior of the offender, who were both aware of the offender's acts in 2009 after one of the victims came forward.
At the time, the victim had declined to report the matter to the police.
Section 424 of the CPC requires anyone who is aware of certain crimes to "immediately give information" at the nearest police station, or to a police officer, except if the person has "reasonable excuse".
Timeline of events
- 2005 to 2007: A prominent figure in the Catholic Church of Singapore committed sexual crimes against at least two boys aged between 14 and 15. Both victims attended a school where the man taught religious and moral education.
- 2009: The second victim left school. He told a sector leader of the man's religious order about the offences but did not want to make a police report. The offender's religious leader questioned the offender about the allegations, and the offender confessed to them. The offender was suspended from school activities and barred from school premises, ST reported.
- June 2009: The man left Singapore for a six-month therapy programme in the U.S.. He was then posted to another country.
- March 2020: The man returned to Singapore to renew his missionary visa.
- Late 2020: Offences were brought to the attention of the school board. An internal inquiry was carried out.
- October 2020: The archbishop of Singapore was informed of the case. He gave instructions to report the matter to the police and to the relevant Catholic authorities, in line with Vatican protocols.
- May 2021: The school board's chairman lodged a police report. The man was called up by the police for investigations.
- Jan. 20, 2022: The man was charged with sexual offences.
- May 5, 2022: The man was sentenced to five years' jail after pleading guilty to two criminal charges -- one of carnal intercourse against the order of nature and one under the Children and Young Persons Act.
- May 5, 2022: Archbishop William Goh issued a public apology on behalf of the church
Top image via Archbishop William Goh on Facebook
Follow and listen to our podcast here